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May 21, 2013


2012 Quarter Horse Meet Concludes on Saturday, May 18 with
Presentation of Leading Trainer, Jockey and Owner Awards

Sam Houston Race Park announced that Especially Tres a 2-year-old filly  owned by Jim D. Pitts was named 2013 Horse of the Meet.  The precocious runner was undefeated in her two starts and won the richest race of the 2013 American Quarter Horse meeting, the $452,800 Sam Houston Futurity (G2).

Bred in Texas by Michael S. Partin, Especially Tres, a daughter of Dashair out of the Tres Seis mare, Delightfully Tres, was purchased by Pitts for $6,700 at the 2012 Heritage Place Sale.

Especially Tres - Return by Sandra Beck - Coady Photography

Trained by Trey Wood and ridden by Ricky Ramirez, the sorrel filly won her trial on March 30, recording the third-fastest qualifying time. She drew the far outside post for the Sam Houston Futurity final, and won in commanding fashion.  Especially Tres was two-for-two at Sam Houston Race Park, and topped all horses this meet with earnings of $181,120.

"We knew very early that this filly was special," said Wood, who is in Ruidoso, New Mexico preparing for their opening weekend. "She's different than any horse I have ever been around."

Both Wood and Pitts knew that their filly had the potential to be one of the country's best 2-year-olds.  Following a month-long break at Wood's base in Brock, Texas, Especially Tres was shipped to Ruidoso Downs. She is training for her next start, trials for the $2.6 million All American Futurity (G1) on August 15. The ten fastest qualifiers will advance to the premier Quarter Horse stakes for 2-year-olds, which takes place on Labor Day.

Woods acknowledged that she would have been ready to run in trials for the Ruidoso Futurity this weekend, but the plan all along was the All American.

“She's that good,” said Wood. “Our goal is to just keep her happy until the trials for the All American in August."

In addition to being honored by Sam Houston Race Park, Especially Tres has earned national recognition as one of the top ranked 2-year-old in the AQHA National Poll.

Judd Kearl and Manny Vega, Jr. Tie for theTraining Title
The battle for Trainer of the Meet went down to the wire with perennial leader Judd Kearl sharing the honors with Manny Vega, Jr. Both horsemen won 13 races.

Kearl had success in trial races, claiming and allowance races.  He supported the meet with 95 starters, the most of any trainer this season.

"I want to thank my owners and my great team for their hard work," said Kearl.  "This time of year is challenging with horses running in Houston, Remington Park and this weekend in Ruidoso. My assistants, Brad and Arturo deserve a lot of credit."

This is the sixth Sam Houston Race Park leading trainer title for the 38-year-old conditioner, who was born in Utah, and now calls Madisonville, Texas home.  He won his first Sam Houston training title in 2006, and topped all conditioners in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012. 

Vega had a great season and had a major standout in his barn, Tejas Energy B, who was undefeated this season at Sam Houston Race Park. The 3-year-old Tres Seis colt, owned by Antonio Delgado, Jr., won each of his three starts and capped off the meet with a victory in the $59,850 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge.

"This has been a dream come true," said Vega, who is devoting his energies to training after retiring as a college administrator, a job that he held for 38-years.

Jose S. Espinosa enjoyed a successful debut at Sam Houston Race Park, finishing second with 12 wins. Trey Wood and Angel Sanchez tied for third in the standings with 10 wins each.

Luis Vivanco Earns His Second Leading Riding Title
Jockey Luis Vivanco picked up his second leading rider title at Sam Houston Race Park. He won previously in 2011 and was dominant throughout the 2013 meet, finishing with 29 wins, 22 seconds and 26 third-place finishes.  The 30-year-old jockey was born in Vera Cruz, Mexico and has been one of the top riders in Texas, winning the title at Retama Park and finishing second to Ricky Ramirez last year at Lone Star Park. His stakes wins this meet included the $59,850 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge aboard Tejas Energy B for Vega and a nice victory with Kool Country Man for trainer Jonathan Castaneda in the $101,970 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G1).

"I want to thank God and so many trainers for their faith in me," said Vivanco.  "Manny Vega, Cindi Keeton, Abel Morin, Jonathan Castaneda and Tommy Zarate put me on very good horses."

Vivanco and his wife, Elizabeth, have a 13-month-old daughter, Lorena.  He will return to Retama Park for their 2013 Quarter Horse season, which begins on June 7.

Santos Carrizales had an excellent meet, finishing second with 20 wins. Luis Ramirez was third with 17 victories and Ricardo Aguirre rode 16 winners.

Jose S. Espinosa Wins His First Leading Owner Title
In the race for Owner of the Meet, Texas horseman Jose S. Espinosa completed the meet on a high note with an impressive victory by his 2-year-old The Kat in the Hat in the $75,690 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3).  The Mission, Texas resident started 31 horses, winning 8 races to secure his first leading owner title.

Espinosa owns and trains The Kat in the Hat, as well as Trace Seis,  the fastest qualifier for the $452,800 Sam Houston Futurity (G2).

"It's been a family tradition," explained Espinosa. "I learned everything from my grandfather. It's hard work, but I have really good help. They are dedicated and you can see the results."

He will send horses to Retama Park and has several 2-year-olds heading to Ruidoso Downs as well.

"We love Texas and hope that one day we can get the same purses in states like Oklahoma and New Mexico," adds Espinosa.

Antonio Delgado, Jr.  was second in the owner standings with 6 wins and  A. D. Maddox, Michael Amburn and Eleazar Martinez, Sr. tied with four wins each.

Live Thoroughbred racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, January 17, 2014. Until then, a comprehensive menu of simulcast racing will be offered seven days a week. Racing fans are invited to enjoy the third leg of racing's Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 8. Premier race meets including Monmouth Park, Saratoga and Del Mar will showcase top Thoroughbreds this summer and Quarter Horse fans will be able to watch and wager on "America's fastest athletes" at Ruidoso Downs, beginning May 24.

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 minutes from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 16 recently renovated luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Champion Energy Services Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit

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